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#38 in Concurrency

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MIT license


crates.io docs.rs LICENSE

Correctly designing and implementing distributed algorithms such as the Paxos and Raft consensus protocols is notoriously difficult due to the presence of inherent nondeterminism, whereby nodes lack synchronized clocks and IP networks can reorder, drop, or redeliver messages. Stateright is an actor library for designing, implementing, and verifying the correctness of such distributed systems using the Rust programming language. It leverages a verification technique called model checking, a category of property based testing that involves enumerating every possible outcome of a nondeterministic system rather than randomly testing a subset of outcomes.

Stateright's model checking features include:

  • Invariants via "always" properties.
  • Nontriviality checks via "sometimes" properties.
  • Liveness checks via "eventually" properties (with some limitations at this time).
  • A web browser UI for interactively exploring state space.
  • A sequential consistency tester for concurrent systems (such as actors operating on an asynchronous network).

Stateright's actor system features include:

  • The ability to execute actors outside the model checker, sending JSON messages over UDP.
  • A model for lossy/lossless duplicating/non-duplicating networks with the ability to capture actor message history to check an actor system against an expected consistency model.
  • An optional network adapter that provides a lossless non-duplicating ordered virtual channel for messages between a pair of actors.

In contrast with other actor libraries, Stateright enables you to formally verify the correctness of both your design and implementation, which is particularly useful for distributed algorithms.

In contrast with most other model checkers (like TLC for TLA+), systems implemented using Stateright can also be run on a real network without being reimplemented in a different language, an idea pioneered by model checkers such as VeriSoft and CMC. Stateright also features a web browser UI that can be used to interactively explore how a system behaves, which is useful for both learning and debugging.

Stateright Explorer screenshot

A typical workflow might involve:

# 1. Interactively explore reachable states in a web browser.
cargo run --release --example paxos explore 2 1 localhost:3000

# 2. Then model check to ensure all edge cases are addressed.
cargo run --release --example paxos check 4 2

# 3. Finally, run the service on a real network, with JSON messages over UDP...
cargo run --release --example paxos spawn

# ... and send it commands. In this example 1 and 2 are request IDs, while "X"
#     is a value.
nc -u localhost 3000


Stateright includes a variety of examples, such as an actor based Single Decree Paxos cluster and an abstract two phase commit model.

To model check, run:

# Two phase commit with 3 resource managers.
cargo run --release --example 2pc check 3
# Paxos cluster with 3 clients.
cargo run --release --example paxos check 3
# Single-copy register with 3 clients.
cargo run --release --example single-copy-register check 3
# Linearizable distributed register with 3 clients.
cargo run --release --example linearizable-register check 3

To interactively explore a model's state space in a web browser UI, run:

cargo run --release --example 2pc explore
cargo run --release --example paxos explore
cargo run --release --example single-copy-register explore
cargo run --release --example linearizable-register explore

Stateright also includes a simple runtime for executing an actor mapping messages to JSON over UDP:

cargo run --release --example paxos spawn
cargo run --release --example single-copy-register spawn
cargo run --release --example linearizable-register spawn

Model Checking Performance

Model checking is computationally expensive, so Stateright features a variety of optimizations to help minimize model checking time. To benchmark model checking performance, run with larger state spaces.

The repository includes a script that runs all the examples multiple times, which is particularly useful for validating that changes do not introduce performance regressions.



  1. Clone the repository:
    git clone https://github.com/stateright/stateright.git
    cd stateright
  2. Install the latest version of rust:
    rustup update || (curl https://sh.rustup.rs -sSf | sh)
  3. Run the tests:
    cargo test && cargo test --examples
  4. Review the docs:
    cargo doc --open
  5. Explore the code:
    $EDITOR src/ # src/lib.rs is a good place to start
  6. If you would like to share improvements, please fork the library, push changes to your fork, and send a pull request.


Stateright is copyright 2018 Jonathan Nadal and other contributors. It is made available under the MIT License.

To avoid the need for a Javascript package manager, the Stateright repository includes code for the following Javascript dependencies used by Stateright Explorer:

  • KnockoutJS is copyright 2010 Steven Sanderson, the Knockout.js team, and other contributors. It is made available under the MIT License.


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